PRICES at the new leisure centre have been branded "disappointing" by a local expert.

Emma Back of Winchester Sport Art and Leisure Trust hopes the city council will review the fees, which were revealed at a recent cabinet meeting.

She said that the facilities in Bar End need to be accessible to everyone, but are currently not affordable.

"There's no doubt the photos of the building's interior, which were shared at the Winchester Sport and Leisure Park Open Forum on Tuesday, look amazing," said Ms Back.

"We're sure lots of local people will enjoy using the centre when it opens – but doing so must be affordable. It was therefore disappointing to see the prices proposed recently at Cabinet and again at the Open Forum, as they were higher than expected.

"All the way through the business planning process for the new centre, Winchester City Council talked about a maximum 15 per cent uplift in pricing, although the baseline was never stated.

"Evidently, a more significant uplift was agreed with Everyone Active during their tender in 2018-19, but the contract isn't public, so we're only starting to see its impact now – and still, two years after the contract was signed in March 2019, the Joint Advisory Board that will oversee contract implementation and issues such as pricing hasn't been set up.

"Hopefully, that will be resolved soon, and greater scrutiny will occur, so the centre can be made accessible to all."

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As previously reported, the facilities in Bar End will be more expensive than those at River Park.

Juniors and disabled people will now pay £3 pound to swim – a 33 per cent and a 40 per cent increase respectively.

But Everyone Active, who will take on the running of Winchester Sport and Leisure Park, believe the pricing "reflects the brilliant standard".

A spokesperson said: "In partnership with Winchester City Council, we carried out an extensive market review ahead of the opening of the brand-new Winchester Sport and Leisure Park (WSLP). The results of this review have informed our decision to align and tier our pricing structure to ensure a fair approach to all.

"We are confident that the pricing reflects the brilliant standard of facilities that will be available.

"From the new centre’s opening in May 2021, members and customers will have access to a variety of the centre’s new amenities. The WSLP will offer the community an increased gym space with 200 station fitness suite, three group exercise studios and a 50m eight-lane swimming pool, a confidence water area and large teaching pool area."